Features June 1984
Reproductions for the plebes: the Banfield proposal
On The Democratic Muse by Edward C. Banfield.
It is one of the curiosities of modern cultural life that a great many people who have neither an interest in art nor any real knowledge of it—people for whom art has never, in the normal course of things, become a significant factor in either their experience or their thought—nonetheless find themselves, for a variety of non-aesthetic reasons, compelled to have a great many opinions about it. In a perfect world (we may suppose) they would live their lives and pursue their specialized tasks, whatever these might be, without feeling obliged to give a moment’s thought to the vexing issues that are likely to suggest themselves to anyone who has formed the habit of reflecting upon the complexities of aesthetic experience. But as the modern world tends—in this respect no less than in others—to be a highly imperfect place, more and more of these aesthetic illiterates (as I believe they may accurately...
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